You may, or may not be aware, but the first week of the Tour de France has been filled with several crashes and accidents. One of the more shocking crashes involved a French TV car that decided that it needed to pass the breakaway group on Stage 9. The car – to avoid hitting a tree on the side of the road as it was passing the group – swerved into Juan Antonio Flecha, sending him to the pavement. Johnny Hoogerland, unable to avoid hitting Flecha, struck his bike, which catapulted him into a barbed wire fence on the side of the road. A senseless, and completely avoidable accident.
Why I bring this up, is that some people find that funny. And more disturbing is when those people have a voice that is listened to.
Michael Smith a sports reporter and writer for ESPN. Has tweeted to his 95,000 followers that he thought the accident was funny.*
Of course, his unrepentant attitude (he has since issued an “apology”, but to call it even half-assed is a huge stretch) has angered and enraged cyclists everywhere. Gary Fisher – the father of the mountain bike has even threatened to punch him in the face.
The problem is, we’re helping him by re-tweeting, forwarding, and passing along what he said.
Every time someone goes to ESPN’s website to comment – whether in support or against Smith, it’s traffic for ESPN. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad publicity, it is driving traffic to them, and traffic = $$$.
People are calling for the ESPN big-wigs to suspend or fire Smith. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will happen, no matter how many of us call for it. Like I said above, his comments are driving massive amounts of traffic to their site, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the ESPN big-wigs don’t support him fully in his comments. If they didn’t, we would have had more than his half-assed apology that he tweeted.
The other thing is that “we are few, they are many”. He has 95.000 followers. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the majority of them aren’t cyclists, and I’ll go farther out on that limb and say that the majority are probably anti-cycling. He, his followers, and his employers aren’t going to care what a relative handful of cyclists have to say.
He is a D-bag, and he is following the shock-jock handbook step by step. He is even going as far as openly "thanking" individuals in his twitter feed for their tweets against him. This is nothing but a game for this sick bastard.
His ongoing remarks, and ESPN's continuing lack of action say exactly how they feel about cycling and cyclists.
*I refuse to post any links to Smith, ESPN, or any part of this story.